Ever since our ancestors evolved enough to lift their necks and look up at the night sky, mankind has questioned the meaning of existence. Driven by curiosity, our search for answers has been fueled by a desire to find a purpose greater than the limitations our eyes can behold. Many of our race’s greatest achievements can be attributed to our appetite for understanding. Without this basic need, we would not have made the social, scientific, or ideological advancements that currently exist in our world.
Finding purpose or meaning for our lives remains one of the greatest internal challenges we face. It is something I’ve struggled to find since the day I was old enough to look at the stars and recognize my insignificance within the vast significance of the universe. Every time I look up at them, I am faced with the age-old existential question: why am I here?
I believe that there are two types of purpose: our grand or existential purpose and our individual purpose. Our grand purpose, according to my own ideologies, is to assist in the advancement and preservation of my species. To do that, I must throw aside selfish desires and make decisions based on what’s best for humanity. Many of our motivations come from our desire for self-gratification or personal satisfaction and, as I can attest, overcoming them is not a simple task.
The second, individual purpose, stems from what the individual believes the meaning of their lives to be. Ask any person you know, and I can guarantee that you won’t get the same two answers from anybody if you inquire about what the purpose of their lives are.
These two types of purpose often inter-mingle with one another as we try to find our grand one through individual means. What I am trying to say is, finding our individual purpose seems to satisfy our need for a grander purpose. People may not heed my definition of a grand purpose but it doesn’t mean there aren’t those who are in search for one. Because I am in the same shoes (I want my grand purpose to be what I defined, but I’m not there yet), I am certain that we want to find the thing that makes us significant according to our understanding of importance.
Various religions provide a good example of what grand purpose means. The people who follow religious doctrines tend to have a basic idea of what their existential purpose is. The answer to ‘Why’ has been provided to them, and there are some basic guidelines for what their time on earth should be spent doing. Whether it be serving their gods or living a decent life in preparation for the next, they are living their lives for a grand or existential purpose.
As with any grand purpose, religious people can have selfish reasons for pursuing what they believe the meaning of their lives to be, but most believe in some sort of servitude to humanity which serves the purpose I wish to stand for.
For me, my definition of an existential purpose doesn’t satisfy my need to find a significant individual purpose. I am still searching for what it is I’m here for and how I can help people while also adhering to my own selfish desires (I want to experience all life has to offer). For some reason, I can’t seem to get over the thought that there is something greater out there that I haven’t found yet that could satisfy both.
Part of the reason I started this site (existential purpose) was to reach at least one person and hopefully make their lives better. If I could do that, then I have done what I’ve intended to do and have completed that purpose. Another reason (individual/selfish) was to create a platform so I could get published someday. That being said, I want my book to be published to help make the world better, so it’s not all about me, but I have a strong desire to create my own individual purpose (success as a novelist) so I can complete my existential purpose. I juggle with my intentions daily…
Unfortunately, neither of the purposes I’ve created for myself are enough for me as I still ask what it all means. I wonder if it even matters what I do or if there’s something out there I’m missing that’s beyond my comprehension. Only time will tell. Until then, I will continue my pursuit for a purpose.
I am obsessed with finding my purpose and answering the question ‘Why are we here?’ You can help by telling me your own purpose or definition of the meaning of life! Feel free to do so in the comments or by filling out the form in the ‘Contact Us’ page!
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”